Peoria Police Making Progress on Gang Violence through "Don't Shoot"

Published 09/25 2013 05:11PM

Updated 09/25 2013 06:16PM

PEORIA – The Peoria Police Department is sharing new information about the city’s anti-violence initiative, “Don’t Shoot.”

Police said they’ve been working tirelessly on this long-term effort, aiming to get guns off Peoria streets. However, Chief Steve Settingsgaard admits they haven’t been very vocal with the public about the progress they’re making.

Although the city recently experienced a string of violence, statistics show that crime has been decreasing since 1999. Compared to last year, violent crime is down 13 percent, property crime is down by 10 percent, and gun crime is also down by 10 percent.

In the last six months, police said they’ve made 113 arrests. On top of that, 57 documented gang members have been indicted. Chief Settingsgaard said, “We are trying to get a message out to the public that we've been active on gangs through the spring and summer and I think a lot of our activity has been under the radar, as far as the general public goes. The gangs certainly know what we've been up to all summer and that we've been applying a tremendous amount of pressure to them.”

To deal with the current uptick in violence, Settingsgaard plans to have more officers patrolling Peoria’s neighborhoods.

A new part of “Don’t Shoot” is in the works and it involves every day people who want to see the violence end. A community component has always been a part of the plan, but officials said now is the time to step forward.

Mayor Jim Ardis said, “It's the logical next step and it has always been a part of the plan.”

The initiative is called “PCAV,” Peoria Community Against Violence. Ardis said this group will be critical in combating the city’s crime. “This is a continuation of the program and I think people are engaged. I think they want to help.”

A community leader that has already stepped forward to help is Carl Cannon. Cannon works with some of the city’s youth through his ELITE program. Now, he’s spearheading a prevention approach with Illinois Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth.

Cannon said, “Currently the city is using ‘Don't Shoot’ which is an intervention. ‘Don't Start’ is designed to be prevention.”

Cannon said Don’t Start will reach out to students at a young age. It aims to teach positive behavior before they commit to a life of crime. Cannon added, “So it's not just the schools responsibility. It's the communities. So we're going to all chime in together and for the good of our kids.”

PCAV and Don’t Start are two new ways to assist with Don’t Shoot. Leaders said Peorians should be optimistic.

Cannon said, “I want the community to be encouraged. I am!”

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